Americans Agree that Our Nation Needs More International Education: Survey




Rebecca Morgan,, 202.737.3699 x4449

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2016 – Despite the highly contentious national election of 2016 in which Americans seemed to disagree on almost every topic including social issues, economic growth trends, and changes in the environment, Americans still agree on one thing: international education is essential to the American education experience. According to a new public opinion poll, a large and bipartisan majority — 90% of voters— agree that “our nation needs an education system that produces educators, business leaders, and diplomats who understand other cultures and languages.”

The public opinion survey, commissioned by NAFSA: Association of International Educators and conducted at the same time as the presidential election by Lake Research Partners and the Tarrance Group, asked likely U.S. voters about their views on international education. The survey shows that Americans believe that both men (59%) and women (61%) agree that being part of the global community makes the United States stronger and more secure. The poll results also showed that regardless of demographic group, a large majority (and almost unanimously in some groups) agree that our nation is better off when more of our students are internationally educated and understand other cultures and languages (83%).

“The survey shows clearly that public opinion supports preparing the next generation of Americans with international skills and global competencies,” said Marlene M. Johnson, NAFSA executive director and CEO. “International education is a vital asset to the United States’ academic and scientific innovation, economic vitality, future security, and global leadership.”

These data may be surprising to some, as they come at a time when America seems extremely politically divided. Foreign policy issues played heavily in political commentary in this year’s election and according to poll results, the biggest concerns of likely voters included the economy and jobs (27%) and healthcare (21%).


Lake Research Partners designed this pre-election and election night omnibus survey, which was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers. The survey reached a total of 2,400 likely voters nationwide, including both cell phones and landlines. The survey was conducted from November 6-8, 2016, and has a margin of error among adults overall of +/-2.0% at the 95% confidence interval. The margin of error is higher among subgroups.